This is the first of a three-part series about Cloudhead, a Salta, Argentina-based NGO that supports traveling artists, teaches locals English and social media skills and provides cameras to children in the Salta province. Cloudhead was founded by Leigh Shulman, an editor at Matador Life and Noah Edelblum, a sculptor and painter.
Leigh Shulman and Noah Edeblum left New York City when their daughter was three. They sold everything and started traveling – first to the south of France, then to Italy and Belgium before coming back to the States. They lived in Buffalo, went up to Montreal and down to Panama. Then back to the US and finally into Argentina. For most of their travels, the threesome crashed living rooms through CouchSurfing.com, a Website that connects voyagers with hosts. Lila’s seven now and tired of traveling, so Leigh and Noah decided to finally settle down.
They fell in love with Salta in Argentina’s mountainous northwest terrain. The 400-year-old town has beautiful rivers, great hikes and old churches, and Shulman’s house offers spectacular views, a quincho and a big wooden kitchen table that seats eight. No longer staying at personal hostels across the world, Leigh and Noah are offering up their own pad.
They’re providing traveling artists with a place to sleep, stay and work through Cloudhead, an NGO they’ve founded to promote art and the local community. The first artist in residence is Natalia Trossero, a London-based photographer who found them while traveling through Salta. Trossero’s work looks at the nature of memory, a theme that became even more powerful after her cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident while Trossero was working from the Salta house.
Playing host to artists, setting up exhibitions and marketing their work is just one part of the NGO’s plan. They’re also bringing creativity to the Salta province, teaching students English and helping children develop social media skills in an area traditionally focused on manual labor. In May, Cloudhead started a Facebook campaign to collect cameras for the children of Wichi villages across the province. Once the children start snapping, Cloudhead will display and sell the photos online and at US- and Argentina-based galleries. The first round of collections netted Wichi children 20 cameras, and the second one will start soon.
The third part of Cloudhead’s organization is to teach Salta students English through social media. They’ve partnered with El Instituto de Educacion Media, a high school that’s associated with la Universidad Nacional de Salta. More than 35 tweens are learning how to use social media, and Leigh is explaining it all in English. “The idea is that we want to give our students a real reason to learn,” she says. Salta is gentrifying, tourism is getting stronger, and in a region traditionally focused on manual labor, language and media skills are increasingly important.
Greg Spielberg | May 20 2011